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MADISON - Nicole Stewart, 34, a Milwaukee County woman appeared before Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge William Sosnay and was sentenced to 5 years confinement, 9 years extended supervision and 3 years probation to be served consecutively, with $320,603 owed in restitution, Attorney General Van Hollen announced today.
According to the Department of Justice's criminal complaint, Nicole Stewart founded Compassionate Mothers Inc. in 2003, and stated its purpose was to provide prenatal care coordination and childcare coordination for pregnant mothers or mothers with newborns less than eight months who were eligible for the Medicaid or Badgercare Program. Between September 2004 and March 2006 Stewart billed Medicaid for services that had not been provided.
In March 2006 the Department of Health and Family Services notified Stewart that it was going to conduct an audit of the business. Lacking any proof to support the billings to the Medicaid Program, Stewart paid her employees to fabricate documents in an attempt to cover up the fraudulent billings. The defendant created documents in an effort to make it appear that services were provided when, in fact, none had ever been. In addition to the cover up and billing for services that had never been provided, the complaint alleges that Stewart knowingly billed the Medicaid Program for services that had been provided but were not eligible for reimbursement under the Medical Assistance Program.
In July 2007, three of the employees who assisted Stewart in creating the false documents each pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of filing fraudulent insurance claims. At an October 16, 2007, hearing, Judge Sosnay withheld a sentence and placed each defendant on one year probation. As a condition of probation, each defendant was ordered to pay $1,500 in restitution and a $1,000 fine.
A fourth employee, Shirlaine Baker, pleaded guilty in March 2007 to one misdemeanor charge and was ordered to pay $1,5000 in restitution.
On October 22, 2007, Stewart pleaded guilty to four counts of felony Medical Assistance Fraud. Additional charges of Medical Assistance Fraud were read-in for purpose of sentencing. The additional charges stem, in part, from a separate criminal complaint filed on September 18, alleging Stewart violated conditions of bail by starting another company called Care and Comfort Support Services and using that company to file false claims to the State's Medicaid program.
"This case sends a strong message to those who seek to defraud the state's Medicaid program," Van Hollen said. "We will investigate, and we will prosecute."
In October, both the State Assembly and the State Senate passed a state budget, signed by the governor that adopted Attorney General Van Hollen's plan to add two additional auditors to the Department of Justice's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. These auditors will enhance the state's investigative capacity to crack down on Medicaid fraud, elder financial abuse, and elder abuse.
Stewart has been in custody since being arrested on October 16, 2007, for failing to appear in court for an October 5, 2007, hearing.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Frank Remington.